Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
Momosuke has been left behind deliberately by the group and now spends his time investigating rumours - more to see if he can find them again than any great wish to further research his book. In particular he stumbles across accounts of sea ghosts claiming the lives of fishermen who go out near the location of a mysteriously vanished island. The island is one of a pair and Momsuke ends up on the other island where he discovers the secret behind the ghosts, how the second island disappeared and why Mataichi & co. are concerned. Y'see contained on the island is a Flame Lance, a mechanical device linked heavily into the spirit world and capable of wreaking considerable destruction. Various powers covet the device and someones machinations succeed in seizing it for unknown purposes.
This leads directly to the Kingdom of Kitabayashi where an exponentially growing curse seems to be running free. Lord Kitabayashi seems more concerned about rumour control than actually dealing with the curse itself. With people dieing seven at a time fear stalks the Kingdom and Mataichi feels that something deeper is going on so he, Nagamimi, Ogin and Momosuke all begin to get to the bottom of this curse. It all leads to a confrontation where not a lot is at it seems and Mataichi & co. discover their efforts have been directed to ends they certainly don't approve of...
Here the violence level peaks with people committing a variety remarkably nasty things to each other. As you would expect from this series it doesn't shy away from showing you such violence although I must admit I found it less horrific then earlier stories. Much of it happens without great insight into the motives behind these acts which is what I have found to be more unsettling stories this seris has had to tell - those where the perpetrator is quite understandable if solidly over any moral line redeeming their actions. As such the series loses a little of its unsettling feel and goes more for the straight out gore factor.
Consequently the conclusion isn't as satifying as it could be. That said all the long running threads of the series, few as they have been, are tied up. It does provide a conclusion whilst also leaving plenty of room for the continuing travels of the Mataichi gang. In many ways I am sad to see this series end. It's dark and twisted look at the ugly side of human nature was refreshing to see in a medium often flooded with Shonen (boy to young adult) or Shoujo (girl to young adult) tales that are unrelentingly optimistic in outlook. Having something that is bleak yet still maintaining a note of optimism makes a nice change of pace.
It has been a fun ride and maybe, just maybe, a second season will be made sometime to bring us more of these darkly cautionary tales.